“Food Culture Binds Us Together”: BEF Wrap Up

Berkeley Haas alums continue to change the way the world thinks about food through such startups as Revolution Foods, Annie’s, Krave Jerky and more.  Add in the Bay Area’s food-obsessed ecosystem and it’s the perfect recipe for innovation!

Students, alums and community members spent an evening hearing from leaders in the space (watch the video). We were fortunate to have William Rosenzweig (Dean and Executive Director at The Food Business School), Scott Kucirek (CEO of OCHO Candy), John Foraker (President and CEO of Annie’s Inc.) and Scott Adams, creator of the cartoon Dilbert and the short-lived Dilberitos frozen vegetarian burritos.

Two teams from Rosenzweig’s just-completed Food Venture Labs class pitched their projects. Elvina Kung (EWMBA 16) an Erika Gray (UCSF PharmD) detailed how Just For You Genetics is creating energy bars to support specific SNPs aka genetic variations created from the difference in a single DNA building block or nucleotide. Caroline Yeh (EMBA 15) introduced A Little Luck Edibles that will serve the demand for conveniently and consistently dosed medical marijuana edibles.

Two themes emerged from the main panel. Perserverance and understanding your customers. A veteran of multiple startups, Scott Kucirek is still learning: “You don’t always know what people are responding to in your product…especially in food.”

Lisa Murphy emphasized the importance of recognizing impact—“No small impact is truly small.” This sentiment was echoed by John Foraker when asked by an audience member if it is difficult to go from being an independent startup focused on organics to being part of a larger company—in Foraker’s case, General Mills. Foraker acknowledged that it was not always easy and that change occurs more slowly.  However, in the end, “It’s better to have a seat at the table to drive change.” This turned out to be an especially salient comment in light of General Mills’ decision announced last week to become the first major US food producer to commit to using cage free eggs by 2025.

Foraker ended the evening with another well-timed comment, “Food culture binds up together.”

Click here to watch the video of the event.